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About NOC

It all started on the Nantahala River, with three friends who knew there was something special about this place, and something magical about the time spent in the river, in the hills and on the trails. In the decades since then, the river has seen it all: millions of visitors and millions of smiles. Every year since its founding, NOC has strived to share the wonders of this place, and all the places we raft, hike, pedal and paddle.

NOC: A complete outdoor outfitter, providing:

  • whitewater rafting on seven Southeastern rivers.
  • world-class paddling instruction in whitewater and flatwater
  • international paddling adventure travel
  • shopping at our fully-stocked Outfitter's Store
  • adventure getaways, combining activities, lodging and meals
  • a leadership institute for outdoor professional development
  • fully-customizable group adventure programs
  • four distinct restaurants at our Nantahala Resort
  • guided activities like fishing, hiking, biking and climbing
  • bike rentals and repairs at our Bike Shop
  • lodging options for all tastes and budgets
  • festivals and events throughout the 'outdoor season'


NOC has long been the home to many aficionados, the meeting place for friends and the vacation destination for so many groups and families. NOC has been recognized by various media including Good Morning America, The New York Times, Outside, National Geographic Adventure and more. We appreciate these accolades, and we owe it to our dedicated staff of folks who bring their passion for the outdoors to work every day. Don't take our word for it, experience it for yourself, today.


The NOC Story

More than 38 Years of Excellence

Since 1972, when NOC founders Payson and Aurelia Kennedy and Horace Holden opened a small rafting company on the banks of the Nantahala River, NOC has played a leading role in the outdoor recreation industry.

NOC's list of offerings that first year included rafting and canoeing on the Nantahala and Chattooga Rivers, a convenience store and gas station,  local-food cuisine at River's End Restaurant and a good night's rest at the Tote 'n Tarry Motel. Year by year, more and more activities and programs were added, as increasingly enthusiastic outdoor lovers came to the area to visit, and then returned to stay. River by river, NOC built up an operation that would span four states, not to mention the 40+ countries visited by NOC's Adventure Travel trips. Our staff of dedicated professionals not only left our guests with memorable experience, but they also contributed greatly to the growing movement of outdoor adventure.


An Olympic History

NOC athletes have always been at the top of their sport. In particular, our relationship with the prestigious Nantahala Racing Club has allowed Olympic-caliber athletes to train right here at our facility. Former NOC president John Burton was a member of the original 1972 Olympic slalom team. His teammate Angus Morrison, currently head guide for Nantahala Guided Trips, was also on the Olympic team that year, as well as in 1976 and 1980. More recently, Olympians Lecky and Fritz Haller, Horace Holden, Wayne Dickert, Scott Shipley and Chris Ennis have all trained with NRC, right here on the Nantahala River. The only Americans to have won top honors in whitewater slalom were NRC members: Scott Strausbaugh and Joe Jacobi brought home the Gold in C-2 in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. The Nantahala Racing Club continues to train the newest crop of slalom paddlers for this year's Beijing games, including women's K1 paddler Zuzana Vanha, and many of these athletes call the Nantahala home.


Whitewater Connections

The relationship NOC has developed with whitewater manufacturers has much to do with the staff from NOC, who have gone on to take lead roles in other companies. Homer King founded legendary Silver Creek Paddles while working as an NOC guide. Liquidlogic founder Shane Benedict worked for NOC as a Chattooga guide and kayak instructor for years. Back in his NOC days, Shane could often be found at Nantahala Falls, carving foam as he worked on boat designs for Perception. Phillip Curry saw a need for a lifejacket made specifically for whitewater kayaking; he founded Lotus Designs after testing prototypes on his friends and co-workers. And freestyle C-1 world champion and NattyShred founder Barry Kennon-back in his NRC racer days-used to wash dishes at River's End Restaurant. Wayne Dickert, head of NOC Instruction, was a key player in the creation of Dagger's GT series. Seeing a need for all-around boats friendly to novice kayakers, Wayne collaborated with Dagger on designs that would be comfortable and forgiving for novice boaters. Turn over any stone in the world of paddling, and you're likely to find someone who's been involved with NOC.


An Adventure Destination

Through the years, NOC has expanded to include rafting on nine rivers in the Eastern US, Adventure Travel to more than 40 countries, an array of lodging and dining options and more. Because of our great location, we are perfectly situated as a destination for outdoor adventure in the Southeast. As our company continues to mature, our goal has always remained the same: to provide excellence in outdoor adventures. We strive to provide the highest quality products and programs in outdoor recreation and education. We also make it a goal to provide a high quality work life for our staff. It is important to us to participate actively and considerately in the larger community. These are the principles that have guided our company over three decades of outdoor adventures, and into the next chapter.